Sunday, August 16, 2009

Manifest Destruction

Florida, Georgia, Alabama in water wars, Texas is in a water shortage, now California is dry and burning up. The climate-change driven droughts are settling in hard in the coastal states of the US, and the "water police" are turning in citizens who dare use a hose on the wrong day. It has come to this. The massive denial at the National level of clear climate trends in order to foster more and more "growth" for private profit is finally paying off - in the destruction of the environment and the increasing tension and chaos in society over these issues. We have the big industries and corporations that bought our government to thank for this, and to this day there is legislation being sponsored to spur more consumption and growth, particularly construction projects. We have no more resources to rely on, yet this demand for more growth goes on and on.

The rationale for growth and expansion as a means of profit has been embedded in US policy and economic development since the inception of this country, in "Manifest Destiny": westward expansion, the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of Texas, California and and Alaska . These territories were then opened for settlement with land given out to those who were willing to migrate and colonize areas by setting up farming. This embedded the practice implemented by the US government of taking over resources for profit which is a method as old as humanity.

To make a long story really short, the entire economy of the US has been structured in this model of consuming resources, with embedded legislation and financial structures which ensure that the consumption of resources through land development, purchase of goods and the implementation of global resource wars remains the driving engine of this country's life style. The phase we're in now, with financial collapse and ecological collapse, is the logical consequence of unfettered capitalism. The Malthusian scenario has now come in to play, and technology can no longer be used to "combat" the properties of a system, the earth's ecology, which provides the basis of life support for all of us.

Our current generation of politicians at the national, state and local levels now have the unenviable job of turning around a mindset that built this country. Many business, political and government groups are still demanding and legislating this growth and development as a solution, much of it in green clothing, in spite of the clear danger that this world view now represents to society. In California, many cities are trying to deal with the local resource issues, such as water and energy, while the State mandates the growth increase embedded in SB 375, for example, which is touted as an anti-sprawl measure because it focuses increased construction around transit centers whether the cities can deal with it or not. Considering that development and construction creates far more pollution, resource depletion and water consumption than any savings obtained by ostensibly driving less, it is actually a destructive measure. There will need to be a reconstruction of State and National policies and governance in order to resolve the formidable issues of human over-demand on the existing resources of this planet. That, or let nature do it the really hard way.

There's a way to avoid ecocide (checklist here) and ending up like Easter Island, if we have the will to do it.